Early inning success at the plate was the key cog in Concordia-St. Paul’s sweep of MSUM.
The MSUM softball team fell to Concordia-St. Paul 11-3 and 9-0 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader at Scheels Field on Sunday.
Concordia-St. Paul jumped ahead early with a five-run first inning and a two-run second.
In the first inning, Golden Bears center fielder Carlie Hart was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. Nicole Thompson bunted for a single, moving Hart over to third. After Thompson stole second base, Haley Schattner struck out. With one out and two runners in scoring position, it looked as if Dragons starting pitcher Becky Berth was going to wiggle out of a jam.
Haley Schanks singled home a run and after a walk to load the bases, Kris McIntyre cleared the bases with a three-run triple. The Golden Bears added another run on a sacrifice bunt before the Dragons ended the top of the first.
The Dragons, however, responded in the bottom of the first. Madison Paige drove in Elizabeth Johnson with a sacrifice fly to right field.
In the second, Berth was in damage control. With two outs and a runner on third, she needed an important out to keep the Dragons in the game. She didn’t get it as Schattner walloped a ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
Through two innings the Dragons faced a tough hill to climb down 7-1 after two innings.
Concordia-St. Paul added a single run in the fourth, sixth, and two more in the seventh.
The Dragons added a single in the third and sixth. It wasn’t enough as Concordia-St. Paul cruised to an 11-3 win.
Again, in the second game, Concordia-St. Paul had an early lead. This time it was a three-run second inning. The Golden Bears reached base safely four times before an out the Dragons could record an out.
The damage could have been worse if it weren’t for an inning-ending double play.
Hart lifted a fly ball to Dragons right fielder Johnson that appeared deep enough for the runner at third to tag up and score. Johnson threw a near-perfect throw to catcher Megan Asham, who blocked the plate beautifully thus preventing the runner from scoring and ending the inning in the process.
In the third inning, the Golden Bears tacked on two more runs on a two-run home run off the bat of Schanks.
The Dragons had a defensive lapse in the fifth that led to few more Golden Bears runs. On a double steal attempt of second and third base, Asham’s throw to second skipped into the outfield allowing the lead runner to score and the trailer to advance to third. In the same at-bat, Dragons starting pitcher Tori White uncorked a wild pitch which allowed a run to score.
Four batters later, Peyton Gaber came in to pitch in relief of White. Facing Cam Veenbass of Concordia-St. Paul with a runner on second and third base, Gaber unleashed a wild pitch of her own allowing Hannah Carlson to score. Veenbaas lined a single up the middle to cap off a four-run inning marred by defensive mistakes by MSUM.
After finally escaping the inning, the Dragons attempted to rally but couldn’t push across a run. The game ended after five innings with the Golden Bears taking the second win of the day 9-0.
The Dragons’ top two hitters all season, sophomore Madison Paige and freshman Ashley McCance, provided all the offense for the team in the first game.
Paige went 1-for-2 while driving in two RBIs, while McCance was a perfect 3-for-3 and reached base on a walk.
Paige leads the team with 22 RBIs and hits with 38. She also leads MSUM with a .365 batting average. McCance leads the Dragons with four home runs and is second in batting average on the team with a .361 average.